Many American homeowners face the threat of water damage during winter. Months of consistent rain, hail and wind take a toll on your property. But, if you’re considering preventative maintenance, it can be difficult to know where to start, or what to do in case of an emergency. As with most elements of homeownership, it pays to plan ahead. So, here’s how to prepare for wet weather.
With fall on the way, the decision to forgo that last BBQ of the season in favor of cleaning out your home’s gutters can be an agonizing one. But, a few simple home maintenance tasks could save you considerable time and money in the long run. A recent study revealed that most homeowners can significantly improve their property’s flood protection by investing as little as $250. Even better, most homeowners should be able to complete all of the items on the list below in a day or so.
Before the weather turns, be sure to check the condition of your roof. Worn or warped shingles can crack, allowing rainwater to enter your home. If you’re uncomfortable with heights, contact a professional roofer and pay for an inspection. Not only will they highlight any issues with your roof that you may need to address before winter, but they should also be able to give you an idea of your roof’s remaining lifespan and provide an estimate of the replacement cost.
It’s also worth noting that most home insurance policies cover damage to your roof that occurs suddenly (for instance, during a storm). However, damage due to wear and tear is generally excluded. So, be sure to check the condition of your roof at least once a year.
The lowest portion of a property is often at the most risk of rain damage. This is because the earth surrounding your home is not as compact as it was before your property existed, so groundwater naturally filters down towards your foundation, potentially corrupting its structural integrity.
To counter this, most homes feature gutters and downspouts, which are designed to capture rainwater that falls on your roof and carry it away from the home; either towards a municipal drain or far enough from the premises that it won’t affect your foundation.
When fall arrives and the trees begin shedding leaves, gutters often become clogged, which reduces their efficacy. So, be sure to check your gutters and downspouts for damage and blockages at least twice a year.
It’s not just your gutters that require maintenance. If your home features external drains (such as those often found on balconies or below-grade doors), make sure they’re clear of debris. While there’s usually no risk of damage to your foundation, if these drains become clogged, you risk water backing up and entering the home.
While you’re at it, check your nearest municipal storm drain for debris, too. Clearing this will help prevent water from backing up into your property.
Once you’ve ensured that rain can flow freely from your property, consider any other means that water can enter your home. Points of ingress/egress are the next culprit, so be sure to check the seal on your doors and windows.
If the seal is cracked or brittle, or if you’ve noticed any leaks, it may need replacing. Remember, if water is gradually seeping into your home through cracks around your window wells or anywhere else in your home, your insurance will not cover the resulting damage.
A good method to prolong the lifespan of your seals is to install covers on your window wells to protect them from the worst of the elements.
When a storm hits, water damage shouldn’t be your only concern. Consider the items you leave outside your home each night; how likely is it that they could cause damage to your property in the event of a severe wind storm? Repeat offenders such as patio umbrellas or outdoor furniture should be stored in a secure location, such as a garage or shed.
And, damage to your own property isn’t the only risk. Be sure to consider damage to your neighbor’s property, as well as personal injury. If your furniture is blown from your property and causes injury to another person, you may be held liable. So, make sure your home insurance policy provides adequate liability insurance limits.
Similaryly, loose branches can easily damage your home in a storm. Old or rotting trees may need to be removed entirely. While this kind of damage is often covered by your home insurance policy, you’ll likely be responsible for the costs associated with removing or replacing any damaged trees. You’ll also have to pay a deductible and may see an increase in your premium as a result of making a claim.
With winter encroaching and the increased risk of water damage to your home, the last thing you want is for your heating to stop working. In extreme cases, this can cause the water in your plumbing system to freeze, leading to a burst pipe.
In fact, freezing is such a common cause of burst pipes that many home insurance providers impose requirements on homeowners who are away from their home for extended periods of time during the winter months, such as leaving your heating on, or asking a friend to periodically check on your home. So, if you’re planning a winter getaway, be sure to check your policy wordings before you leave.
And make sure to check your heating system before winter arrives. If your system is over 15 years old, you may also consider upgrading to a more energy-efficient unit.
Chances are, if you experience a flood, there will be some degree of damage to your property. Check out the following list for ideas of how to limit the damage to your property:
In some instances, preventative maintenance can only do so much. If your basement floods, try to remain calm and follow the steps listed below:
Water damage accounts for more home insurance claims than theft and fire combined, so it’s important that your policy protects you comprehensively. But, what does that really mean?
Well, first of all, you’ll need a policy that includes flood coverage. You’ll also need to take into account the deductible for this type of claim, as well as your provider’s reputation for dealing with claims. Finally, you’ll want coverage for additional living expenses (ALE), as significant damage may mean you’re unable to live at the property for weeks or even months.
While flood damage is excluded, at Square One, we include coverage against most types of water damage as standard. In addition, we allow you to select the limits and deductibles that fit your needs. So, in the event of a significant loss, you know you’ll be able to afford your deductible. You can customize your ALE limit; in fact, you can customize all of your limits. And you can do it all online, from the comfort of your own home.
To find out just how affordable personalized home insurance can be, click the button below. Or, to speak to one of our licensed insurance agents, contact us at 1.855.331.6933.
Even when you take precautions, accidents can happen. Home insurance is one way to protect your family against financial losses from accidents. And, home insurance can start from as little as $10/month.